After our day in Ephesus, the next day we woke up and the boat had docked in Istanbul, Turkey. I was really looking forward to this stop because of it’s rich history. In fact, this entire trip was exciting to me because we were going to three of the most important cities in Western culture: Athens, Istanbul, and Rome.
More than 9 out of 10 people (yes, the math is wonky) will begin to sing the song from They Might Be Giants, Istanbul (Not Constantinople) whenever we mention the name “Istanbul”. Of course I still do it too.
I think this was one of my favorite places also because it was so different from what I’m used to. I’ve never been to a mosque before nor have I seen all the minarets reaching through the skylines. It was really a cool sight.
One of the things that fascinates me about modern Istanbul is that it is one of the only, if not the only major city that spans two continents. We took a bus from the European side across the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia. It was just a cool thing to do.
Later we had lunch (where we had some Turkish coffee) and toured the Grand Bazaar. You know I think is bazaar? Spelling “bazaar”. Anyway, this place is one of the largest covered flea markets in the world. There you can be inundated by Turkish Rug salesmen and buy just about any trinket you’d want. At least we did. But it was cool.
We had some free time also so we walked over to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. This was worth the trip in and of itself! I was blown away by the architecture of the Blue Mosque. We were able to go inside and it was so ornate and beautiful. I was really taken aback by how beautiful this building was. I had also never been in a mosque before so that was an experience. We all took our shoes off and they gave us bags to carry them. Women had their shoulders covered and men couldn’t wear shorts. Of course they would provide all that for you. We were fine.
Across the way was the Hagia Sophia. It was equally amazing, but we only saw it from the outside. This was built as one of the largest churches in the world at the time (early 500s). About 900 years later when the Turks took over, they converted it into a mosque.